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Division has reached crisis proportions. The sea of discordant voices is at fever pitch: gun control versus the Second Amendment, anti-abortion versus pro-choice, Democrats versus Republicans. Say anything, and you’re bound to be greeted by wails of defiance. Women in combat? Health care for the poor? Phooey! I’m telling you, if Jesus came back tomorrow and offered the world everlasting peace, there would be complaints. And not just low-level muttering, either. Shouts. Screams. How dare you! In many ways, the human race is in a state of permanent toddlerhood. We’re in our “terrible twos”…forever, cursed with a permanent level of discontent with virtually everything.

Enough, already. I’ve had it. Facebook, which started out as a serendipitous connection to past friends and faraway family, has turned rancorous with opinion. I can’t stand it anymore. But what is the option? To not engage is just as detrimental. To take oneself out of the equation changes nothing. So?

So I do this. I do the only thing I can do. Like Cassandra of mythology, consider me a harbinger. I predict that if you keep haranguing people about your unwillingness to participate in even the discussion of gun control, you will find yourself on the wrong side of history. I predict that not listening to “the other side” — whatever that is — will leave you stranded, quite alone in your own miserable bubble. I predict that insisting on being right, rather than being compassionate, will not end well for you. Because we all need compassion. And if you don’t give it, you don’t get it. Period.

I get it. We all take our beliefs seriously. And that’s fine…good, even. You should feel strongly about things. But let’s think about how we express ourselves. Are we leaving room for calm, rational discussion or flatly stating that ours is the only way to think? Are we dismissive of others’ opinions? Do we react with openness to others or with reflexive anger?

Don’t think I’m excusing myself from this discussion. If there were ever a queen of “I’m right-ness,” it’s me. But I have been pushing myself to listen more and judge less. I don’t get into arguments on Facebook if I can help it. I don’t argue with those who will not listen. It’s an ongoing job and one I take seriously. Maybe I can’t change anyone’s opinion. But maybe I can get them to agree to listen. That’s a win-win if there ever was one.

Today, let’s all do one thing: Let’s remember that we don’t know everything. Only God does. And He might not agree with our opinions. Let’s leave the door open, just a crack, to let other people of varying ideas and stances in. Let’s remember that if we don’t start agreeing on something, we will end up with nothing. And no one wants that, right?

It was the first time I’d ever gone to Victoria’s Secret.  I wasn’t looking for some fancy frou-frou lingerie; I was just thinking it was time to get a little support in the upper regions.  So I skulked in like a tourist in a foreign land, and instantly, a sales girl approached me and attached like Velcro.

“Are all of the bras padded?” I asked naively.

She blinked twice. “Well, most are, because that’s what everyone wants.  Here are a few that aren’t.”

I held up one, and, though it was less padded, it still seemed cushiony.

“They all seem padded,” I said.

She smiled. “We prefer the term ‘lined.'”

“But if you’re not Dolly Parton, isn’t that kind of like false advertising?” I asked.

“Well, we prefer the term ‘enhancement.'”

Maybe everything in life is about the way you frame it in your mind.  If your cup doesn’t runneth over, so to speak, maybe it’s no sin to embellish your assets. And even though this analogy is kind of a stretch, maybe – like those padded bras – everything in our lives should be cushioned.  Maybe even the news should be filtered and softened so it’s easier to digest.

The word “gospel” translates to “good news.” You might not even realize that good news exists if you only look at the news programs running all day on television.  But there really are people in the world who do good things and expect no reward, like the man who lifted a car off of two injured children and didn’t wait around for recognition. I also loved the story from Guideposts Magazine about the whole town that adopted foster children, and the story of an unsung hero on the California Highway Patrol determined to save despondent people from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

SueBE’s wonderful post this week about a waiter who stood for what was right is an inspiration too, and Lori’s post about the beauty of kindness fed my soul in a glorious way.

Let me know if you find any positive stories about kind people doing good things.  I’d love to start my day with a nice cup of coffee, inspirational stories and a powerful dose of prayer. Now that’s an instant uplift!

This was one of my mother’s favorites.  In fact, it is the only song I can remember her singing.

Serve God every day. Serve Him in all you do.

If you’re like me, you’ve heard this and wondered. How? How can I do this and be who I am? Or does it mean that I should be a missionary or a preacher?

Because I’m not cut from a missionary or preachers cloth. I’m not a people person. Sure, I like them well enough right up until I’ve had enough. And that threshold is way too low to be either a missionary or a preacher.

Are those the only ways to serve God? Are the rest of us, those in other professions, openly defying him?

That’s always been one of those uncomfortable thoughts in the back of my mind. Then I saw this video.

First of all, let me lay this out. I don’t know if waiter Michael Garcia is Christian or Buddhist or non-religious in every way. I don’t have a clue.

What I do know is that he served God along with a meal. He stood up for a child with Down’s Syndrom. He didn’t pretend not to hear it when another customer made rude comments. He stood firm and said no.

Whether you are a waiter or a writer, an electrician or a janitor, a surgeon and a steward, you too can serve God. It is in how you treat people with fairness and compassion. It is in demanding similar treatment from others.

Serve God every day. You don’t have to be a missionary or a preacher. You can still carry His word to others.

–SueBE

 

Lots of folks I know are grappling with hard times. Every night my phone rings with prayer requests. What I wouldn’t give for a truly “nothing” day, a day when all is at rest, when newscasters scramble for material, and people say, “I’m fine,” and mean it. Perhaps you, too, are feeling this way?

Here is a blessing for better — and duller — times. Those who need them know what I mean.

Blessed be to God for the plainest of days,

when God in His heaven allows no surprises.

When tedium trumps terror,

and everyone holds it together,

at least for one more day.

The day we do not learn

of suffering in the world,

of diseases in the living,

of tumult, chaos, bedlam.

A day of mouths open

to feed and yawn and not to scream.

Oh! For one, single,

endless summer afternoon —

the kind children carp about,

not seeing the gift of innocuous time.

Blessed be the days of no particular note,

each falling, silent, a leaf from a sacred tree.

It has become a bit of a family joke. “I’m praying for you.”

When I was a teen, I learned to dread that phrase from my grandmother. It meant she was disappointed that I wasn’t doing something her way and she was praying for me to come around. It always sounded a bit like a threat. She was certain God was on her side and he had a message for me.

Of course, I was equally certain that God was not sending messages via my grandmother. Why? Because I was praying too.

So what do you do when you are praying for one thing and you are pretty certain someone else is praying for another solution altogether? When this happens in my own life, I generally resort to one line out of the Lord’s Prayer. Thy will be done. I pray that God’s will take place. I acknowledge that God’s Will will be best for everyone involved (and not just my selfish self). I also pray that I will figure out what it is sooner rather than later.

Thy will be done.

Four short, simple words.

But it is really hard for a Type-A personality like myself to pray it with any intention. In the end, I really and truly want things to go my way and I’m not above a few subtle hints to the Great Divine.

Still, I try to pray it and mean it although it can be pretty tough when you get a hint of what is coming and you know it isn’t going to be pleasant.

Maybe I should just go find someone else to pray for.

–SueBE

Whether or not this prayer was actually said by Joan of Arc, I don’t know but it is wondrous in its simplicity.  Thank you to Kansas Bob on whose prayer blog I first saw this prayer.

 

If I am in your Truth,
God, keep me there.

If I am not in your Truth,
God, put me there.

Amen.

This is one of my all time favorite gospel pieces.   This video is 8 minutes long but this particular song is only the first two minutes.

–SueBE

Our pastor, Father H, takes his shepherding seriously. So when he suggested a series of scriptural readings to ponder as part of our 2013 New Year’s resolutions, I was intrigued. Now, I’ve heard and read these scriptures hundreds of times before, but like most things you hear often, I rarely thought about them in a deep and meaningful way. I plan to take that opportunity now.

Let’s start with Matthew 18: 21-22 — “Then Peter approaching asked Him, ‘Lord if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.’”  Now, I can’t help picturing some poor schmuck repeating, “I forgive you!” over and over endlessly while the guy who sinned against him (and who, let’s face it, has already shown a lack of fundamental respect for the guy he sinned upon) restrains himself from pummeling the first guy in the kisser. Practically speaking, it seems a little masochistic: Somebody does you wrong, perhaps repeatedly, and you keep turning the other cheek. Sounds to me like someone’s gonna end up with a severely scarred cheek.

It’s just the opposite, however. By forgiving (and forgiving and forgiving), we are doing ourselves good. We are letting go of anger, hurt and frustration, leaving our souls in a state of perfect ease. It is self-help at its finest. Moreover, it’s an option open to anyone. It might take two to tango, but it only takes one to forgive.

A few weeks back, during our journey out to California to visit family, our car was side-swiped by a gigantic RV at a gas station. The driver of the RV proceeded to drive away as if nothing had happened. We managed to track the vehicle down and block his getaway. There I stood, in the middle of the street, stupidly playing David against the RV’s Goliath, while watching expletives form on the lips of the driver’s wife.

I’ll admit it; I was angry. And my anger was not ameliorated even after the driver agreed to pull over and talk to us about the accident, or when he begged us not to report the accident to our insurance agent. Or when, after my husband told him, “These things happen,” the driver observed, “I wish they didn’t happen so often.”

I’m ashamed of my reaction now. I forgive the driver and his wife, and even their yippy, unfriendly dog. I hope they forgive me. Maybe they really didn’t know they’d hit us, much like a rhinoceros stepping on a butterfly. Maybe they were afraid their licenses would be taken away. They were an older couple. Heaven knows, it won’t be too many years before my husband and I are in their shoes. Our reaction time won’t be as quick; our sense of our vehicle’s size and capabilities will be perhaps a bit more dim.

So I’m going to say, “I forgive you,” over and over, as we write the check for the deductible, as we drive a crappy loaner while our car’s in the shop, even as our insurance rate goes up, as it very well may. And I’m going to ask for forgiveness just as many times, even as I realize that he-who-sinned-against-us might not hear it. At least it will be out there in the universe. Part of the ozone. Friendly pollution.

That’s the power of forgiveness. It’s like laying down a burden. I’m not angry anymore. My soul feels lighter. That Jesus, He knew what He was talking about. Seventy-seven times over.

A personal favorite and our anthem today.

–SueBE

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